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South Koreans dare to hope for a once unthinkable peace with Kim

In downtown Seoul, Kim Jong Un's huge, smiling face gazed down at pedestrians from a billboard-sized TV screen.

When the North Korean leader appears on the screens in the South Korean capital, it is a sign of danger and high tensions on the peninsula: weapons testing, rocket launches or extermination promises.

But on Friday, in a moment few had expected, he spoke of peace and reconciliation.

Kim's image of South Korea's President Moon Jae, the first meeting between the leaders of the two countries in more than ten years, was back in Seoul on Saturday. it really happened.

The two leaders "solemnly declared to the 80 million Koreans and around the world that there will be no more war on the Korean Peninsula, and thus a new era of peace has begun."

  Pedestrians cross the street while a large screen shows live footage of a joint press conference between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
"There is no more war," headline Korean newspaper Hankyoreh said on Saturday under a full-page photo of Kim and Moon in hand over the Military Demolition Line (MDL), which has severed the two Koreas since 1953.
The trade goal signed by the two leaders on Friday was not the fall of the Berlin Wall – the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between the Koreas remains, and there are many, many problems that need to be resolved before reunification approaches – but it had some of that historical weight and has left even the most cynical South Koreans really optimistic about the future of their country.

Emotional Influx

Generations of men and women south of the border, war and the accompanying threats of military attack were an omnipresent fact of life.

There are more than 3,000 air raid shelters in Seoul, and every man between the ages of 18 and 35 must serve two years in the military, and the city is home to tens of thousands of US soldiers.

No South Korean will tell you that they are unaware of the dangers, but sometimes the capital can feel completely removed from its belligerent neighbor in another world, even if the artillery shells rain on the city from Pylongyang.

Before Friday, many would have said this was because the South Koreans simply wanted to continue their lives – they did not build the eleventh largest economy by thinking about the war every day – but the reaction to Kim and Moon's handshake indicated a degree of pent-up fears and denials that came for some in floods of emotion.

"Theoretically, we have a truce, but the atmosphere … is pretty frightening when nuclear testing and rocket launches take place," said Jang Gyu-won, 23, of CNN.

In the center of Seoul, where many people had gathered the day before to greet the announcement, the mood on Saturday morning remained jubilant.

Lee Bong-joo, 52, whose deceased father was from North Korea, said she was "so happy that such an opportunity took place".

"I hope there will be good news soon so I can go to my dad's hometown to hold a memorial service," she said. "He wanted to meet his separated family (in the north) but could not and died during the wait, he really wanted to return to his hometown."

The agreement on Friday also included an obligation to reunite families separated by the war with family reunification programs to resume later this year.

On the other side of the DMZ North Koreans, who were kept in the dark throughout The apparent rapprochement, also awoke to the news of the successful summit.

"Panmunjom's historic declaration has made a sweeping and groundbreaking development in the North-South relationship that meets the demand and desire of the entire nation for peace and the unification of the Korean peninsula," said the state-run Korean news agency. Terms of agreement with her official name.

  On Friday, April 27, 2018, a commuter picks up a copy of a special issue of the Munhwa Ilbo newspaper with a picture of South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Seoul, South Korea

What happens next

But peace and complete denuclearization – as the Panmunjom Declaration does – is one thing to accomplish is one completely different .

The Friday meeting was all about Korea, and the statement contains a language about the importance of countries deciding their future "on their own", but a real solution to the crisis on the peninsula requires shopping out of the country US, China, and much of the rest of the international community that imposed strict economic sanctions on North Korea when trying to build its nuclear program.

Kim has already met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and will gather for a historic summit meeting with Trump earlier this year, leaving the fate of Koreans largely in the hands of the US leader.

Trump – who gave credit for the ever-happening meeting, including Moon himself, was triumphant on Twitter, "KOREAN WAR TO END!" and praised Chinese President Xi Jinping for his help.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying applauded the "historic moment of the North and South Koreans crossing the military demarcation line," citing an ancient Chinese poem: "Disasters are never powerful enough to separate true brothers, and a smile is all you need to eliminate the hard feelings. "

A peace treaty to officially end the war may be the simplest thing, but even that will require far more parties than just the Koreas. When war broke out on the peninsula in 1950, the United States under the banner of the United Nations and China were both important warring parties.

Both are parties to the ceasefire agreement signed in 1953 that ended hostilities, along with North Korea, but not South Korea, whose strongman leader Syngman Rhee refused to sign, though he could not stop his US sponsors from doing so.

Under the new Panmunjom Declaration, Moon and Kim agreed to work towards "four-way meetings between the two Koreas and the United States and China to end the war and establish a lasting and solid peace regime."

Travis Jeppesen, author of "See you again in Pyongyang," said: "In the coming months, we can expect more North-South involvement in sports and culture and eventually trade, education and tourism." 19659002] "These steps, combined with diplomatic engagement, will slowly but surely lead to the empowerment of the North Korean people," he added.

  Koreans in Japan celebrate the success of the historic summit between North and South Korean leaders, in a rally organized by pro-Seoul and pro-Pyongyang youth groups in Tokyo on April 27, 2018.

Major Crunch

The US and China have both formally signaled support to end the war, but it remains to be seen if the much larger h The elimination of denuclearization will prevent such efforts.

What all parties mean by denuclearization has always been a sticking point in the discussions between North and South Korea, North Korea, and the United States.

The Koreans have made agreements in the past, they have held successful summits in the past and joined hands in promising cooperation and solidarity, but the basic disputes have remained unresolved and thwarted any drive towards true peace.

Speaking to CNN at a safe place in Seoul before the summit, North Korea's former deputy ambassador to London, Thae Yong-ho, Pyongyang, warned not to support the kind of stringent inspections needed to verify complete denuclearization are.

"I really doubt whether America can force Kim Jong Un to accept the complete, verifiable and irreversible principle of denuclearization (CVID)," he said.

"If North Korea accepts CVID, that's the end of the North Korean system."

He explained that a true CVID grants inspectors unrestricted access to the land without any restrictions or prior approval. North Korea, with several large camps for political prisoners and top-secret military bases, would probably not allow the inspectors to walk around unattended.

"There are many places that North Korea can not actually open to the world," he said. "How can you be sure that North Korea is not hiding its intercontinental ballistic missiles in these areas? Real and true CVIDs must mean full access."

  Union Union activist holds a bottle of ginseng wine from North Korea's Kaesong City during a demonstration in support of the inter-Korean summit in front of a statue of King Sejong in central Seoul on April 27, 2018.

Vicious circle [PyongyangwillalsoarguerightlymanywouldsaythatitshouldnotgiveupitsnucleardeterrenceaslongasthethreatofUSnuclearattackpersists

Until 1991, the US maintained nuclear weapons in South Korea, and the country is still in the US nuclear shield.

"Since the Korean War, the US has maintained a policy of protecting South Korea with its nuclear weapons and the potential for a preventive nuclear strike against North Korea," said Wol-san Liem, director of International and Korean Peninsula Affairs at the Korean Union of Public Unions Service and Transportation

"In addition, the US and South Korea regularly conduct military exercises that involve the overthrow of the North Korean government."

Pyongyang has long viewed these exercises as a direct threat, and Liem added that "all this militarization, the hostile policies toward North Korea, and the fact that there is still a state of war, are part of a vicious circle."

We need to figure out how to stop the vicious cycle, but he can not be one-sided, "she said, warning her if she does not take" confidence-building steps "with North Korea could cause them to fall apart, she warned. 19659054]
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